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Performance of a motor task learned on levodopa deteriorates when subsequently practiced off

Authors

  • Elise D. Anderson MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Northwest Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center, Portland Veterans Affairs (VA), Portland, Oregon, USA
    2. Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, Oregon, USA
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  • Fay B. Horak PhD,

    1. Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, Oregon, USA
    2. Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, Oregon, USA
    3. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, Oregon, USA
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  • Michael R. Lasarev MS,

    1. Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, Oregon, USA
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  • John G. Nutt MD

    1. Northwest Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center, Portland Veterans Affairs (VA), Portland, Oregon, USA
    2. Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, Oregon, USA
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  • Funding agencies: This publication was made possible with support from the VA Parkinson Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center, Portland VAMC, by NIH grant AG006457 and Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI), grant number UL1 TR000128 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program (CTSA).

  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

  • Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.

ABSTRACT

Studies in animals and in people with Parkinson's disease (PD) demonstrate complex effects of dopamine on learning motor tasks; its effect on retention of motor learning has received little attention. Recent animal studies demonstrate that practicing a task in the off state, when initially learned in the on state, leads to progressive deterioration in performance. We measured the acquisition and retention of 3 different motor tasks in the presence and absence of levodopa. Twenty individuals with Hoehn and Yahr Stage 1.5 to 3 PD practiced the tasks daily for two 4-day weeks, one half practicing on l-dopa the first week and off the second week. The other half practiced off l-dopa both weeks. The tasks were (1) alternate tapping of 2 keys, (2) moving the body toward 2 targets on a posturography device, and (3) mirror drawing of a star. For the tapping and body movement tests, those who practiced on the first week had a progressive decline in performance with practice during week 2, while subjects off during week 1 maintained or improved. In contrast, for the mirror task, subjects on l-dopa initially had much more difficulty completing the task compared to subjects who practiced off. Both groups improved with practice the first week and had flat performance the second week. These data suggest that performance of speed-accuracy tasks learned in the on state may progressively worsen if subsequently practiced in the off state. In addition, performance, but not learning, of some tasks may be impeded by l-dopa. © 2013 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

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